31 December 2007

More Holiday Censorship

Another song I'm not allowed to sing to the children:

Here comes Santa Claus,
Here comes Santa Claus,
To Guantanamo Bay.
The pentagon thought that
He was a terrorist
Riding on a sleigh!

Spooks were questioning
All his reindeer,
Right on through the night.
Then Rudolph turned state's evidence,
So Santa's locked up tight.

I don't understand. I'm trying to expand their little minds...

28 December 2007

Painfully Beautiful

Today, I went to the stylist for a manicure and pedicure. This was, contrary to my prior experience, quite a painful process.. First, I settled in for the pedicure. I'm used to soaking my feet in hot, soapy water, but at this place they were trying a radical new approach. I had to soak my feet in ice water with colored lights shining in it.

The part with my feet being exfoliated was particularly embarrassing, because I'm ticklish, and while this was happening my friend was telling my pedicurist about her old fiance leaving her. I managed not to laugh, though. After my feet had been properly tortured, came the manicure.

Do you know how many different ways there are for a woman to draw your blood while technically giving a manicure?

I do.

And this woman (I think her name was Psarah the Psychotic Pstylist, or psomething like that) used all of them on me. I suppose it's my own fault for allowing a super centigenarian near my skin with power tools. In case you haven't had acrylic nails applied, there's a lot of sanding involved, and although the sanding should be on fingernails, skin often becomes an innocent bystander.

The regular, old-fashioned nail file gave me the biggest cut. In order to stop the bleeding, Psarah had to apply a styptic (yes, she had it handy, so you know she's done this before) to the wound. The cut hurt. The styptic hurt more. Like, just a little less than acute appendicitis.

In the end, though, all was well. Only four of my fingers bled, only one needed medical attention, and all of my nails look pretty. Maybe too pretty. It's hard for an engineer to keep her fingernails looking good, and typing is a real challenge with nails that stick out at all, but let's see how long this lasts.

I just hope there weren't any nasty diseases on that unsterilized nail file. You can't sterilize those things.

By the way... Men, if you ever wonder why women get so upset about breaking a nail... it's because of the agony we have to go through to get it fixed. And we do it all for you.

26 December 2007

Home, Squeak Home

Well, it's official... Mandel, my hamster, is still a virgin.

He spent over a week at my friend's house, and wasn't able to impress the female once. And it wasn't for lack of trying.

He went through nearly a quarter of an ounce of Old Spice. He used nearly a thimbleful of champagne. He even wore a tiny, little tux. But it wasn't enough.

Apparently, the female isn't interested in real males. She took Mandel's belongings, dumped them all in the petting zone, and set them on fire. It was a terrible scene. Mandel was trying to smother the fire, but all he had available was bedding, and that, too, caught fire. He had to be treated for smoke inhalation and burnt whiskers.

So today I took him home. Most of his belongings were destroyed in the fire. All that he has left is a flame-retardant quilt his mother made, his collection of miniature Chinese coins, a tiny pair of handcuffs (which he had apparently tried to use to entice the female) and his iPod Nano.

It looks like my plans for breeding a race of super hamsters will need to be put on hold. In fact, right now, I don't think poor Mandel will be able to perform, even if I find a more amiable female. He's traumatized, and his self-esteem is shattered. If you think hamsters don't have self esteem, watch them sometime... They spend nearly 60% of their time grooming.

I wonder if I'll be able to find a therapist for him. But not some new-age, radical therapist with experimental techniques. I don't want Mandel to be used as a guinea pig.

18 December 2007

CAT got your tummy?

Today I got a CT scan. Computed Axial Tomography is a diagnostic tool mainly used to filter out hypochondriacs and Munchausen patients by creating so much frustration and discomfort that individuals who aren't really sick will give up and go home.

The process starts with an appointment that needs to be rescheduled at least once. The only time I've ever heard of a CT scan not being rescheduled was when an emergency condition was involved. So, you get your time and date from your doctor, and then, after you've had enough time to plan around it, you receive a phone call stating that the test needs to be done the following week, instead. And the second appointment time is much earlier in the morning.

Also, you can't eat anything after midnight the night before. If you work the schedule I've been on, that means that you're lucky to get supper before the cutoff.

So, I signed up bright and early (and hugry) and used my mouse-in-a-maze skills to locate radiology. The only reason I knew that it would be in radiology was that I once read a pamphlet. Once I was signed in, I was required to provide my ID, insurance information, birth certificate, automobile registration, credit rating, DD-214, library card and an essay on why I thought that I would make a significant contribution as a patient.

This required a trip to my car, but instead of simply retracing my steps, I navigated from where I was to the closest exit. I left behind a trail of bread crumbs... fortunately, this old lady who looked like she wasn't going to last much longer, and therefore didn't really need the bread, wasn't able to fight me off as I took it from her tray.

Outside, I noticed that the radiology waiting room was about 10 feet from my car. The bread crumbs saved me a lot of time on my return trip.

Anyway, I went in, and they sent me to the lab, where a nurse drew some blood. Then I returned to radiology, where I finished my paperwork, and signed in an ink that looked suspiciously like the blood that had just been drawn.

Probably my imagination.

I waited about 30 minutes, and a nurse found me and handed me my least-ever favorite thing to put in my mouth. No, EWE!!! I'm talking about Brown Banana Barium Beverage, which I like to call "Nasty Banana Crap". This is the most gosh-awful thing you've ever tasted. If you've ever tasted it. It tastes like if you took bananas, lot them turn brown, and then left them out in the sun for two days, then put them in a blender with some fine sand.

I had to drink a full glass of this most foul brew, even though I was still traumatized from the last time I had to drink some. I think the reason for not eating after midnight is so that you can get this stuff down without puking up your breakfast.

Anyway, I finished it, and (no kidding) had to wait an hour and a half for the stuff to work its way through my system. It was so nasty I wanted to cry. I hadn't wanted to cry that much since my last date.

But I digress.

Eventually, I was called, and led to the scary area. Scary because on one side of the hallway is radiation therapy, which is dangerous to all living flesh, and on the other side is the MRI, which is dangerous to electronics. My iPod was cringing in horror. I was asked to change into a gown and take a seat. In the hallway. The cold hallway, with people walking up and down it. And me wearing nothing but a stylish hospital gown.

During my wait, I had a nice conversation with an elderly gentleman who seemed to be missing part of his jaw, which made the conversation a bit of a challenge. That, and the fact that he was obsessing over his missing shoes, although he was wearing nothing but a gown and was lying on a bed.

Eventually, I was called in and asked to take yet another seat. Not two minutes passed before I was ushered out of the room because an emergency head trauma. I'm alright with this... My problem has been going on for months, and I'm not dead yet. Emergencies and traumas come first. The woman being quickly wheeled into the room looked confused and rather unhappy. I guess that's why they wanted to check for head trauma.

When my turn came, I lay down on a bed that I swear was used in an episode of Star Trek TNG. The radiologist started playing with stuff that looked like more movie props, and then started searching for an available vein. Apparently, my only good vein had already been used to take blood for signing the paperwork. So he searched and searched, and finally I said, "You should get a heroine addict. They can always find a vein." He left, and I felt confident that he would find someone, since this hospital is in a bad neighborhood. Minutes later, he returned with a nurse.

I didn't know that you could be a known heroine addict and still be a nurse.

She poked me in the back of my hand, a sensation akin to having said hand set on fire. After she finished, she said, "I really hate getting stuck in my hand. I just wasn't gonna say anything until I had finished with you." She ran out while the radiologist held me down. Then, the fun part started.

He connected one of the movie props to the tube sticking out of my poor, suffering hand, and then started describing what was going to happen. "When this starts to work, you'll feel like you're peeing your pants, but that's normal." No sooner had I wondered, what's normal about feeling like you're peeing your pants, than I found out. A sensation of intense warmth spread out from my groin. It did, indeed, feel like I was wetting my pants. That made me laugh.

I think the reason they add this stuff to the contrasting dye is so that they'll know when it's time to start the scan, because as soon as I laughed they turned on the machine. It moved me in and out several times (insert off-color joke here) while an automated voice directed me when and how to breath. By this point, the warm sensation was making my whole body feel like I had a jar of salsa under my skin. Not the good kind, but the kind that's all hot and no flavor.

I like salsa. MMMMmmmmm.....

Anyway... I was finished. They gave me numerous warnings about having loose stool (I've had diarrhea for three months already) and that I needed to drink plenty of fluids (does Pepsi count?) and sent me packing.

That was my morning. It took four hours, and I have nothing to show for it except a bruised hand and I can't get rid of the smell of brown bananas. Not that I hope I'm sick or anything, but if I went through all that and the tests don't show something, I'm going to be thoroughly ticked.

Happy, but ticked.

16 December 2007

Hamster dance

So, I have this hamster. He was a gift from a friend who noted that he had a perfect image of the Mandelbrot fractal on his back and, knowing my love of all things fractal, got him for me. Of course, I also have a snake and a cat, both of whom would love to eat him, but I've managed to keep him alive so far.

Very much alive. In fact, he's thriving like I've never seen a hamster thrive. I've had him about three months. In that time, he's almost doubled in length. This wouldn't be so surprising, if he hadn't already been fully grown when I got him. So I got him set up with a house. It was a really kewl little dwelling, with a petting area and a spiral staircase leading up to the exercise area at the top. That part was really clever, because he could get into the wheel and start running, and it would not only spin on the z-axis, like a mere mortal hamster wheel, but would also sorta run on a little track around in a circle to create the illusion that he was actually escaping.

The first thing the little bast... ummmm, rodent... did was to somehow move all of his bedding up into the exercise wheel. I don't know how he fit it all up there, but he did. I couldn't totally blame him, though, because as fancy as the new digs were, they're not sized for a squirrel. So it's not like he could really tell. teehee... He looks like a scene from an old sci-fi movie, crawling around inside there, too big for everything...

Anyway, so he was just doing his thing (hamster stuff) and I told him yesterday that I was going to put him up for stud. He just stared at me for a minute, and then (no kidding) promptly moved all his bedding from the wheel into the petting zone (huh?) and started exercising. Well, one must look one's best, and all that.

Today, I took him to my friend's house, where she showed me hamsters she's sitting for. or on. Or something. Anyway, she first showed me the male. Now, you should always wonder when someone reaches for a hamster, and warns, "Don't laugh." She picked up this furry orange thing and turned him over. I assume it was a him. I looked, and said, "Aren't male hamsters supposed to have nu-nus?"

She said, "He does. They're inside him."

"Those would be called ovaries. And most males don't have them."

"No, he's a proven breeder."

I couldn't imagine how he would get women hamsters into bed... I mean, Mandel (my hamster, so named for his coloring) looks like he's dragging one of those small U-haul trailers behind him. This guy looked... well, not like a guy. Maybe he got close to females by pretending to be gay or something.

Anyway, she continued, "I don't want to breed him."

"Why not?"

"He's orange." I took her point. "I want to see if I can get more fractals, so I want to breed Mandel with the female."

Then, she showed me the female. She picked up this furry thing at least 17% larger than the "male" she had shown me. I promptly approved. So did Mandel.

So now, my hamster has a girlfriend. What I'm hoping to do is get any babies my friend doesn't want. I'll raise them, and if they don't get big, I'll feed them to Naga. If they do get huge, I'll breed them back in.

I want to create a race of superhamsters. It will be my next step toward my goal of conquering the world.

I have hamsters, and I'm not afraid to use them. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

14 December 2007

Seasonal censorship

So, it's that time of year, again. Called The Holiday Season, because there are so many holidays packed so closely that no one can really be singled out. And each holiday has music. There are seasonal songs going back 1000 years.

But I'm an engineer. And, although it's generally considered pointless to reinvent the wheel, anyone who's shopped for tires knows that and engineer will always try to make the wheel better. Or different enough to sell.

So, I take existing songs and re-engineer (i.e., mutilate) them. Here are some choice examples:

For Halloween..
Deck the halls with lots of pumpkins,
fa la la la la, la la la la
Make them look like country bumpkins,
fa la la la la, la la la la
Don we Halloween apparel,
fa la la la la, la la la la
This is not a Christmas carol,
fa la la la la, la la la la.

A similar one for November is...
'Tis the season to eat turkey,
bock bock bock bock bock, bock bock bock bock
Cook it 'til it turns to jerky,
bock bock bock bock bock, bock bock bock bock
Visiting at my grandmother's,
bock bock bock bock bock, bock bock bock bock
Eating food that's cooked by others,
bock bock bock bock bock, bock bock bock bock.

These are just a sample of why it's kewl to be me. So far, so good. I compose these little ditties and share them. Children love them, and learn them, and sing them with me. But now...

It's now Christmas season. While this means different things to different people, and to some doesn't even mean "Christmas", my roommates want to teach their children Christmas songs.

Traditional Christmas songs.

So I'm now forbidden to teach them any new songs. And I have to stop singing the old songs to them. Where is the love?

11 December 2007

Television and Taxes... Putting the "T" into "TLC"

So, I used to watch television a lot. It wasn't my fault, at first. My brother and I weren't allowed to go outside when there wasn't an adult at home, and since we were latch-key kids, that meant that summers were indoors until our mother got home from work. There were two books in the house... One annotated King James Bible, and one pocket-sized copy of The New Testament. I was going to read those, but my brother spoiled it for me by peeking and telling me how it ended (the devil did it).

So we watched television. Anyway, this was what I was used to doing. I hadn't yet mastered the art of watching TV in the background while doing actual useful things, so I would just watch. Anyway, I would watch television, and it had all these people on it. They were always doing things. They were going to parties, and bike riding, and fishing, and playing chess, and mountain climbing, and traveling, and going for drives, and walking dogs, and all sorts of things.

I would watch them, and I would always wonder... How can this person have enough time to do all these things? Have you ever wondered how a person can have a full time job, spend four hours a day in a coffee shop, exercise for an hour, eat out with friends, clean house, get into humor-inspiring trouble with family, spend some quiet time in meditation, and yet still have time to get more sleep than you? I did. Then, one day, it hit me out of the blue, like an airplane part... These fictitious people had so much free time because they weren't spending all their time watching television!

So... I stopped watching television. Now, I have more free time than I know what to do with. Enough time to keep a blog, even. There's just one problem, though... I don't know what all those people are up to, now.

So, that brings us to other topics... On my (don't laugh) Yahoo profile, under occupation, I put (you can laugh, now) "spy". The main reason I did this, was a tribute to Robert A. Heinlein, but also I wanted to put an end to all the men I encountered online who would start to flirt, then see that I worked with computers, and start asking me for free tech support.

But... It got me thinking. I should put "spy" on my income tax return. No, wait, think about it... First, the IRS is not part of the government. They are a private company that simply collects our tax money and gives a portion of it to the government, and keeps the rest for... well, that's another blog. But anyway, it's not really their business what I do, right? So, I should put that I'm a spy.

I kinda see it going down like this:

"But, you can't claim to be a spy on your paperwork!"
"Why not?"
"Because you aren't!"
"How do you know?"
"B... huh?"
"How do you know I'm not a spy? Did you check with my 'employers'?"
"I doubt they would tell you anyway. I'll tell you what... How about if I put 'retired spy'? Would that help?"

I hope the guy they send is wearing a bow tie. It's always more fun to play with the mind of a person wearing a bow tie. It would also give me a chance to get rid of some of those leftover cookies.

10 December 2007

Funny story...

So, I'm at work... that's a crazy place... I'm at work, and I'm looking at a firewall configuration. For those of you not technically inclined, that roughly means, "Me look what make Internet go." So, I'm looking at the config to determine why a VPN tunnel won't work. I was assisting one of my trainees... Let's call him "Brian". So, I'm looking over the config as Brian scrolls through it, and I pointed and said, "They didn't do nonat." For those of you not technically inclined, that roughly means, "They make private data go Internet instead of VPN." So, Brian heard me say this, and at the command prompt he typed "no nat". For those of you not technically inclined, that roughly means, "We not need Internet. Internet full of spam and virii. Me prefer Freecell."

I had glanced away from the screen for a second... Never, under any circumstances, take your eyes off the screen when a trainee has the keyboard. That's what they're waiting for.

So, when I glanced back, I saw the command on the screen. "no nat". It taunted me. It called to me. It represented everything I am against. I was all animal reflex, then. No thought. I shouted, "OMIGOD!!! You deleted the NAT config!" For those of you not technically inclined, that roughly means, "OMIGOD!!! You deleted the NAT config!"

I grabbed the keyboard and mouse from him and started scrolling up, attempting to apply a bit of copy/paste mastery that would astound most techsperts and would get me many dates. Unfortunately, my efforts were hampered by Brian, who was, by this time, laughing(!) and couldn't stop bumping my hands. Nevertheless, I managed to restore what they had. But at the end of this, I was laughing so hard that I could barely complete the part of the configuration which the customer had left out, which involved duplicating the interesting traffic definition into a new NAT Exemption ruleset. For those of you not technically inclined, this roughly means... ummm..... I got nuthin.

Anyway... Crisis averted, Brian and I laughed until time to leave. On the way downstairs, we noticed that the building had hosted an IEEE conference. I missed my chance. As I explained to Brian, I had always wanted to confront those bastards... "Your frigging standards are driving me insane! Why do we need so many frigging standards?!?!? And why do they have to have such nonsensical names? 802.11a? 802.11b?!? 802.11g?!?!? AND NOW THERE'S A G+?!?!?!?!?"

I mean, why the hell do we need these senseless names? We only need three names for wireless: "Slow as hell", "Fast as hell" and "What the hell!" Anything more is just senseless.

So.... I went home. My roommates were all there. Hardly surprising, since they had all eaten of my Cookies of Death. Fortunately, they're now able to sit up on their own. Of course, this means that I need to accelerate my plans to leave the state, so that I can be gone before they're able to walk. But I still have time. Just to be sure, I made them some chicken soup. The broth was extra-special, with eggs left over from the cookies. And then, in their honor, I composed a little ditty:

Ashley gave me salmonella,
At her birthday bash...
I was sicking in the bathroom,
And puking in the trash.
Soon, I couldn't move a muscle,
And my bowels were dry...
Though I am not suicidal,
I wanted most to die.

Someone's in the kitchen with Ashley,
Someone's in the kitchen in pain,
Someone's in the kitchen with Ashley,
Pouring stuff down the drain.

It's not much, but it keeps that weird part of my brain happy. I shared the song with my roommates. That's another reason I have to leave the state.

So, then, to keep things interesting, I went to my friends' house. These friends don't live with me, so they didn't eat as many cookies. So... It's time for my shot that I have to give myself. I wanted to test my courage. One of my friends is into animals. EWE!!! Not like that. She finds strays, fixes them up, and places them with good homes. YOU'RE SICK!

Anyway, she's given shots to dogs, cats, horses and anoles. But she had never given a shot to a human. I was thinking... "Hey! I'm a human!" I checked, and I was right. So I went to her house with a syringe and my meds. She's able to move, now, because she only ate one cookie. She can't stray too far from the bathroom, but the shaking has nearly stopped. So I handed her the syringe.

Just so you understand how truly awesomely brave I am... She's afraid of needles. I don't mean, like, "Eek. A needle. Don't stick it in my eye." I mean that she once saw a plastic toy syringe in a doctor's kit for a five year old, and I had to sedate her. Without using a syringe. That's not as easy as it sounds.

So, anyway, I handed her the syringe and the meds. She accepted it, and looked at the needle... the smallest type of needle possible with modern technology... and started to shake. I hadn't yet lost my nerve. In theory, I shouldn't feel a thing. I mean, this needle was small enough that it didn't actually have to break the skin. It could slide between my skin cells and not do any damage.

So, she filled the syringe. This took literally five minutes, because the needle was the width of a human hair, but the medicine has the viscosity of karo syrup. She feigned falling asleep while waiting for the fluids to rill the vacuum. Once it was full, the fun part started.

She held the syringe like a throwing dart, and motioned throwing it for several minutes. At one point, she said, "So do I just" and then nearly threw it. Fortunately, she caught it just in time, and then had to collect herself. This allowed me a moment to collect myself, too, because I was suddenly starting to have second thoughts.

Meanwhile, her husband was watching all this and laughing out loud. You see... He, too, had eaten a cookie.

So, anyway, I told her, "Just stick it slowly in. It's alright." She hesitated. "I won't feel a thing, really," I lied. She worked up her courage and slowly inserted the needle into my leg. It was at this point that I decided to abandon my original plan, which had been to shout, "OMIGODITHURTS!!!" Mostly because I didn't want to traumatize her, but also because I didn't want her breaking the needle off in my leg.

She finished the shot and put up the syringe, and then started shaking like an electric toothbrush. I gave her moral support, and told her what a wonderful job she did. And she did, too. The simple fact is that if she hadn't been helping, I probably would have neglected to swab the site and little things like that. I'm funny that way. She's not.

Update... Just now, I received an IM from a friend of mine in Maylasia. He said, "Hey, Ash. I'm sick." My first thought was... What the hell? I didn't even send him a cookie!

09 December 2007

Revenge of the cookies

Well, yesterday was my birthday. I'm now thirty-mumble years old. And I made cookies. I used to make them every year at this time, but it's been a couple of years, so to make up for it I made three batches.

My friends got together Friday night, using my birthday as an excuse, because we would all be busy with other stuff on Saturday. We had pizza and my cookies. So far, so good. I had also taken some cookies to work to share with people there. And the trauma begins...

Apparently, everyone who ate a cookie got food poisoning. At first, I wanted to blame the pizza, because I can't be sued for that. But then someone who didn't touch the pizza got sick. And the child who stole a cookie got sick. I got less sick than the others, but I've been in the military, so a little salmonella doesn't phase me much.

So I'm thinking aboout the cookies I have left, and wondering what I should do with them. I could mail them to D.C., but that could end badly for me. I could give them to my former manager, who kept trying to get me fired, but he did call to wish me a happy birthday, so I might feel guilt. I could give them to my mother, but that would require speaking with her.

I guess I'll have to eat them for now. What better way to win that weight-loss contest with my roommate than to give myself food poisoning?

On a side note.... They really are the best-tasting cookies I've ever made. I'll post the recipe later.

05 December 2007

Share the insanity

So, I was telling my roommies about a song that was stuck in my head. Not a normal, healthy song, mind you, but one that started coming to me while I was having a conversation with someone about a medical condition he had once had.

There's a part of my brain... I think it's located between the part that does crossword puzzles and the part that predicts the plots of movies... Its entire purpose is to create music that would get me kicked out of any decent liberal arts school. And that's the origin of this song.

So, anyway, I'm telling my roommates about it, and they tell me that I should put it in my blog. I kid you not... I believe the exact words were, "That's what a blog is for." So you have no one to blame but them (and yourself) if you read the following (not yet completed):

I can't fight this feelin',
Deep inside of me...
I feel like I've been violated,
Penetrated anally.

Yep, you guessed it... The song is about hemorrhoids. If I add more (I don't want to, but I'm sure I will) it'll have to be about the insurance company calling the surgery "cosmetic" and "experimental". I'm tempted to finish just so that I can see what happens if I fit the word "experimental" into a song.

04 December 2007

My first post

Well, here it is, my first post. I just set up the account tonight, and didn't have anything to write about, but I couldn't leave it blank, so here goes...

Solstice came early this year for Naga, my snake friend. Her heat rock was broken, so I got her a new one. So, I was telling people about this, and they seemed confused.

Apparently, some people think it's odd to use an electric, heated "rock" for a reptile. They would have expected me to use a lamp as a heat source. Many of them didn't even know that you could buy a heated rock.

Duh.... what do they think the sun is? It just isn't electrical. It's solar.